Jonas Hiller

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PHT Morning Skate: Breaking down buyouts; Is Waddell going to Wild?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Aleksander Barkov says the Panthers have no more excuses when it comes to missing the playoffs. (NHL)

• The Bruins should do their best to make sure they ink Charlie McAvoy to a long-term extension this summer. (WEEI)

• The Hurricanes might be losing Don Waddell to the Minnesota Wild. (News & Observer)

• Louise St-Jacques is proud of her job as the engraver of the Stanley Cup. “I am very fortunate and proud to engrave the Cup,” St. Jacques said. “I have been stamping the Stanley Cup for the past 37 years, and it still makes me flutter inside every time I see it.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

• What can the Washington Capitals learn about managing roster turnover? (Japers Rink)

• The Wild probably won’t be in the playoff picture in the Central Division so where do they go from here? (Hockey Wilderness)

• Ryan Dadoun breaks down this year’s crop of buyouts in the NHL. (Rotoworld)

• Don’t expect the salary to go anywhere anytime soon. (Spector’s Hockey)

• Who will the Penguins protect in the next expansion draft? (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)

• Here’s a Q&A with NHL 20 creative director William Ho. (USGamer.net)

Nico Hischier began his military service recruitment process in Switzerland. (NHL.com/Devils)

• Stars forward Jason Robertson will never forget where he came from. (Dallas Morning News)

• The latest Color of Hockey blog post covers Malcolm Hayes’ video posts. (NHL)

• This caddy is using nothing but hockey names to list the yardage during his round. (Golf Channel)

• Jonas Hiller’s professional career will come to an end next spring. (Swiss Hockey News)

MORE:
ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Calgary Flames ’15-16 Outlook

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For the most part, there should be optimism in Cowtown.

After a great ’14-15 campaign in which they exceeded all expectations, the Flames had themselves an equally successful summer. GM Brad Treliving struck the perfect chord of adding to his upstart team without sacrificing youth or prospects; Dougie Hamilton came aboard at the expense of three draft picks while Michael Frolik joined in free agency, much like Karri Ramo, who was brought back to recreate last year’s successful goalie tandem with Jonas Hiller.

The Flames didn’t lose much, either.

Spare veteran parts like Raphael Diaz, David Schlemko and Brian McGrattan walked in free agency, and with good reason; the postseason emergence of youngsters like Micheal Ferland, Sam Bennett and Tyler Wotherspoon made the older guys expendable.

The real excitement in Calgary, though, is the prospect of putting everything together. Up front, the dynamic trio of Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Jiri Hudler will be back for another go-round, only this time they’ll have depth behind them: Frolik, a full season of Bennett, a full season of Mikael Backlund (remember, he missed 30 games last season) and a real wildcard in Ferland, who showed flashes of being a havoc-wreaking power forward in the playoffs.

On defense? Imagine if that all comes together too. Adding Hamilton, getting Giordano back, building off the excellent playoffs from T.J. Brodie, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell — the Flames could have one of the better bluelines in the Western Conference.

So yes, Calgary certainly has momentum heading into ’15-16, but momentum can be a fickle thing. Especially when you’re trying to carry it from one year to the next.

What the Flames won’t have going for them is the element of surprise. It’s fair to say they snuck up on some few opponents last year, especially during their 17-8-2 start, but that’s unlikely to happen again. They’re a tough out, and the rest of the NHL now knows it. Upon being introduced to the Calgary media in July, Frolik, the former Winnipeg Jet, acknowledged part of his reason for signing in Calgary was recognizing how good the team was — and will be.

“With me and Dougie, I think that [expectations are] just going to be higher and higher,” he explained, per the Herald. “With what the guys did last year, the goal is for sure to make the playoffs.”

Calgary will also likely need to improve on its puck possession and shot-based metrics — we touched on that earlier today — but those improvements have a good chance of happening thanks to the new roster additions, and the maturation of incumbent youngsters.

Put it all together, and it’s easy to see why the organization’s already thinking about another boisterous postseason in front of the Sea of Red.

“Players want to be in a good situation, they want to have a chance to win,” Treliving said. “In the playoffs, seeing the atmosphere in the building, seeing this city come alive, seeing the support and the passion that our fans have, makes players excited.”

It’s Calgary Flames day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Calgary Flames.

Calgary’s 2014-15 campaign could be summed up with one word:

Overachieving.

Heading into the season with low expectations and riding a five-year playoff drought, the Flames surprised everyone not just by making the postseason — squeezing out the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings in the process — but also winning their first series in 11 years. Impressively, Calgary did this without the services of captain and top defenseman Mark Giordano, who was lost for the year in late February with a torn biceps.

Individuals exceeded expectations as well.

Bob Hartley, in the last year of his contract, earned himself a two-year extension and then won the Jack Adams as coach of the year. Jiri Hudler smashed his career-high in points, with 76, and went on to capture the Lady Byng. Johnny Gaudreau, who wasn’t even on Bovada’s preseason list of Calder favorites, finished as one of three finalists for rookie of the year.

So, needless to say… it was a pretty stellar year in Cowtown.

Off-season recap

GM Brad Treliving’s second summer in Calgary was by far his most exciting. His boldest move, no question, was orchestrating the blockbuster deal that saw ex-Bruin Dougie Hamilton come aboard for a package of draft picks; Treliving then wasted little time locking up the 22-year-old blueliner, inking him to a six-year, $34.5 million deal.

In free agency, Treliving continued to make significant moves. Former Winnipeg forward Michael Frolik was brought aboard for five years at $21.5 million, and the club opted to bring back goalie Karri Ramo for another year in tandem with Jonas Hiller.

The Flames also re-upped with a few of their quality RFAs — Mikael Backlund, Lance Bouma, Josh Jooris, Paul Byron — and might’ve scored the steal of the draft when Swedish d-man Oliver Kylington, who some had pegged as a potential first-rounder, slipped to them at No. 60.

The only thing Treliving hasn’t done yet, it seems, is sign off on his “No. 1 priority” for the summer — an extension for Giordano. The veteran d-man still has a year left on his deal, so there doesn’t appear to be any rush, but it is worth noting that reports suggested Giordano’s initial ask was for a whopping $9 million per season.

If those contract talks go sideways, they could take the shine off what’s been an otherwise sparkling summer.

Report: Bouma, Flames settle on three-year, $6.6M deal

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If reports are true that Lance Bouma was asking for $2.5 million in arbitration, he didn’t have to settle for a whole lot less from the Calgary Flames.

The two sides struck a deal a day later, agreeing to a three-year, $6.6 million contract, according to the CBC’s Tim Wharnsby. (The Flames confirmed the term, but not the money.)

Bouma (pictured wearing No. 17) easily set career highs in goals (16), assists (18) and points (34) this past season.

That reported $2.2 million cap hit doesn’t sting too badly next season – General Fanager pegs the Flames’ cap room at about $4 million after the signing – but it might become regrettable once Calgary really fires up negotiations with players on expiring contracts.

Just look at the most noteworthy contributors who only have one year left on their current deals:

Top UFAs after 2015-16

Mark Giordano
Jiri Hudler
Kris Russell
Jonas Hiller
Karri Ramo

Top RFAs after 2015-16

Johnny Gaudreau
Sean Monahan

Yikes.

Even pondering the savings they’d potentially enjoy from switching up goalies – Hiller and Ramo are a tough investment at a combined $8.3 million cap hit – that’s a formidable set of negotiations for the franchise.

Bouma, 25, brings energy and hustle to the table, yet many probably hoped that the Flames would save a little money on a player who isn’t expected to light up the scoreboard.

Crowded crease: Flames bring back Ramo on one-year, $3.8M deal

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Interesting move from the Flames to open free agency — per Sportsnet, they’ve re-signed goalie Karri Ramo to a one-year, $3.8 million deal.

Ramo, 28, didn’t sound as though he’d be back in Calgary in mid-May, when Flames GM Brad Treliving suggested the team’s crease was getting a little crowded with Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio already under contract.

“We’ve got a young guy Ortio who’s pushing, knocking on the door,” Treliving explained. “[Ramo] is a decision we’ve got to make over the course of the next few weeks, we’re just not there yet.

“A wise man told me there’s only one net. Carrying three goalies, you can only do it for a short period of time.”

That said, the Flames were pleased with how the Finnish netminder played last season. Ramo had a solid campaign, essentially splitting starting duties with Hiller — Ramo had 32 starts to Hiller’s 44 — and that trend carried over to the playoffs, where Hiller was the No. 1 against Vancouver, only to cede the gig in Round 2 versus Anaheim, when Ramo took the job and played well.

In Calgary’s Game 5 elimination contest, Ramo was stellar in stopping 44 of 47 shots, many of the highlight-reel variety.

Recent rumors suggested Calgary was in the market for another goalie. At the draft, the club was rumored to be in the running for former Rangers (now Oilers) netminder Cam Talbot — so, in that light, bringing back Ramo isn’t a huge surprise.

That said, the Finn has scored himself a nice raise — up from the $2.75M annually he made on his last deal — and the Flames now have $8.4M locked into him and Hiller.